Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wine Not? The Low Down on Red Wine's Health Benefits


       Red red wiiinnnnnnne, you make me feel so...healthy? One of the hottest topics in nutrition today is red wine. It's hyped up as a heart healthy, life expectancy boosting, metabolism pumping magical elixir. Guzzle down the red stuff and you'll be fit as a fiddle, all while getting a nice buzz on! Say no more *Glug glug glug*
       You may want to slow down on that next glass, my friends. I want to get my "drank" on and be healthy too, but there's a lot more to this picture.

       Desperate winos Proponents of this latest health buzz rely on red wine's antioxidant content, particularly resveratrol, which is found in grape skins. Resveratrol's super power is explained by how it increases the concentration of HDL, which is the "good" fat that protects the heart by acting as a dumpster for LDL, the "bad" fat that deposits plaque on arterial walls. By altering your lipid profile, resveratrol protects you from heart disease. Antioxidants in general are our bodies' infantry that fight off free radicals, the damaging agents that cause cancer. Resveratrol also keeps you looking fine by maintaining collagen and elastin, the connective tissue proteins we need for youthful skin.  
Red Wine for Heart Health
       Seems like magic, doesn't it? When I first found out about this, I wanted to take a bath in red wine. Then I remembered that behind all magic is smoke and mirrors. So like always, I investigated further.
Get Ready For Some Cracks in this Story
       Resveratrol is the key for red wine's power. Do you know how much resveratrol there actually is in a glass of wine? 1 mg. Do you know how much wine has enough resveratrol to activate its effects?  60 LITERS. Even if you could hypothetically drink 60 liters of wine, all the health benefits will be drowned in 60 liters of alcohol, not to mention massive amounts of sugar and calories. 
       This brings me to my next point. We all have different definitions of what constitutes "a glass" of wine. For some it's a few sips, and for others it's a whole bottle. The actual amount is 5 oz. 
NOT 60 Liters

       It is recommended to drink wine in moderation. Again, we all have different concepts of "moderation." To drink in moderation, women can have no more than 1 glass per day and men can have no more than 2. Many people overdo it and drink 3-4 glasses a night thinking that they are boosting their health. 
NOT Moderation
       Besides the fact that there clearly isn't enough reservatrol in 1-2 glasses of red wine, this isn't a healthy addition to your diet. There's an average of 105 calories in each glass of wine. That's about 100-200 extra calories every day. The same amount calorie wise if you added a cookie to your daily diet. This will surely pack on the pounds. 
"No pants! Too much wine and now they don't fit."
       Let's not forget wine's main ingredient: ALCOHOL. Drinking too much alcohol has serious health consequences: liver damage, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, obesity, certain cancers, and cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscles) to name a few. Furthermore, many conditions can be worsened by regular alcohol consumption, such as depression, high triglycerides, pancreatitis, liver disease, and congestive heart failure. 
       Resveratrol doesn't solely reside in red wine. It's also found in peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, and actual grapes that haven't been fermented into alcohol. So, you can obtain it through a healthier avenue. It's also available in a supplement form, but your body does not absorb most of the resveratrol in supplements, so it's of questionable benefit. 
       Furthermore, the studies that these big health claims are based on are quite dubious evidence. These studies show associations between wine consumption and health, they don't explain how any health parameters are improved. An association does not imply causation. There are a multitude of other factors that could have caused these results, such as the lifestyle of wine drinkers. It's unknown whether it is a component of the wine itself.
       What's even more unconvincing about these studies is that most of them used animals as subjects, not humans. Our bodies are not the same as those of lab rats. We respond differently to substances. The few studies that involved human subjects consisted of metabolically abnormal people (conditions such as diabetes or obesity). What works for them may not work for those of normal health. 
       I am in no way speaking poorly of wine. I am definitely a fan of  wine - sometimes a little too much, but that's a different story...
       Compared to other alcoholic beverages, it's more healthy considering its antioxidant content. No other alcoholic beverage has antioxidants. There could be benefits to drinking wine, but it's not a license to binge drink in the name of health. By all means, enjoy wine for the sake of catching a buzz, but don't chug it down to improve your lipid profile and heart health. Achieve these health benefits the right way: more fiber in the diet, fruits and vegetables, and increased physical activity. 
       If you're out on the town, go ahead and have a glass or two. Like I said, alcohol is fine in moderation. Just don't drink a bottle of wine and think you're being healthy- consuming a great amount of alcohol, sugar, and calories is never healthy.  
Being a lush is never healthy
       To go along with the theme of this post, I'll leave you with this: 
the music video of UB40's "Red Red Wine".
       **Side note, this song came out years before I was born, so I never actually saw the video. I'm not sure what shocked me more, finding out how flimsy red wine's health claims are or the fact that this song is by a bunch of White boys from Britain? Wtf? I always imagined a Jamaican, Bob Marley look alike behind this. Hah!  
NOT Bob Marley



  1. It’s a piece of informative readings with the drunken Garfield looked funny haha and the u-tube oldie B/W MV…. I prefer beers, drink not more than half a dozen a week occasionally, bearing in mind “drink driving can kill” is a true fact.

    1. Hello Simon! So sorry for my late reply! I was very busy over the past two weeks. Thank you for your viewership! I really appreciate it! Yes, the drunken Garfield is a favorite of mine as well. It may even be my hero, haha.